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SC upholds Tamil Nadu government’s law allowing bull-taming sport “Jallikattu”

The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Tamil Nadu government's law allowing the bull-taming sport 'Jallikattu' in the State.

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The Supreme Court on Thursday upheld the Tamil Nadu government’s law allowing the bull-taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ in the State. The Supreme Court, however, said that the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, substantially minimises pain and suffering to animals.

A five-judge Constitution bench of Justices KM Joseph, Ajay Rastogi, Aniruddha Bose, Hrishikesh Roy and CT Ravikumar was hearing a batch of petitions challenging Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra governments’ laws allowing the bull-taming sport ‘Jallikattu’ and bullock cart races. The Supreme Court also allowed the validity of similar laws framed by the governments of Maharashtra and Karnataka allowing sports involving animals.

The bench noted that Jallikattu has been going on for the last few centuries. Strictly observing that the law, having received President’s assent can’t be interfered with, the bench dismissed all the pleas challenging the validity of states’ laws allowing bull-taming sport “Jallikattu” and bullock cart races.

Five-judge Constitution bench directed that all laws are strictly implemented and the DM and competent authorities shall be responsible for strict implementation of the amended law. The Tamil Nadu government had defended the event of “Jallikattu” and told the apex court that sporting events can also be a cultural event and there is no cruelty on the bulls in “Jallikattu”.

Jallikattu is conducted during the Pongal festival as thanksgiving for a good harvest and subsequent festivals are conducted in temples which shows that the event has great cultural and spiritual significance, it had added. In February 2018, the Supreme Court had referred to the Constitution bench whether the people of Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra can conserve Jallikattu and bullock-cart races as their cultural right and demand their protection under Article 29 (1) of the Constitution.

The top court had earlier said that the petitions challenging the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Act, 2017, needed to be decided by a larger bench since they involved substantial questions relating to interpretation of the Constitution. Tamil Nadu and Maharashtra had amended the central law, the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals Act, 1960, and allowed Jallikattu and bullock cart racing, respectively.

The petitions were filed in the top court challenging the State laws. A batch of petitions, led by People for Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), sought direction to quash the Jallikattu law passed by the Tamil Nadu Legislative Assembly, which brought bulls back into the fold of “performing animals”.

PETA had challenged the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Tamil Nadu Amendment) Bill 2017 passed by the state assembly on several grounds, including that it circumvented the apex court verdict holding the bull-taming sport “illegal” in the state. The top court had earlier dismissed the Tamil Nadu government’s plea seeking a review of the 2014 judgment banning the use of bulls for Jallikattu events in the state and bullock cart races across the country.

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